I find myself at the kitchen table, looking out the window to the pitch-black world outside, save the orange glow from the streetlights. My family calendar sits to the right of me, like my compass for the week ahead. I see that the week will be a menagerie of open spaces and bustling activity. Several days of quiet, relaxed time after a full weekend, followed by a Wednesday that I am deeply concerned about.
For, to my left, is a poor dog whining. What exactly he is whining for, I'm not sure. It could be pain, it could be fear, it could be a desire for attention. I squat next to him and rub his muzzle, scratch behind his ears, and pet his side. I help him get up, get a drink of water, and head out for one last pit stop before leading him to his bed, which we've now moved to the living room.
You see, in the past week, he has struggled to get around. He's needed physical help getting up, as well as climbing the stairs, and is, quite honestly, showing his age. We're taking him to the vet on Wednesday.
My children can't help but notice the physical changes in our dog and they know, at least intellectually, that he likely won't be with us for much longer. They get very sad at the prospect of life without our Boomer. As I wrap them up in my arms, trying to soothe them, I do what I can to get their minds off of the future and instead focussed on the present. "Enjoy the time you have with him today," is the mantra often repeated, but it's of little consolation. It's not that I'm trying to avoid the conversation about death and the grief that is inherent in it, or that I don't want to validate their feelings. Indeed, their sadness is my sadness as well. I just feel that our dog's last days should be comfortable and that we, his family, need to offer him compassion and our service so that his needs are met.
In the quiet times like the one I sit in now, my mind wanders. I remember this big dog on the first day he spent with us (at a ball diamond). I remember the details of the day we needed to put his brother down. Respectfully, I find commonalities between Boomer's aging and the aging of my grandmother in her last year in this world.
And it is then...when my mind goes racing away to the land of "what if's"...that I must slow myself down and offer myself the same advice. "Enjoy the present. Enjoy the time you have today. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy those who share your days" With that, I can breathe a little easier. I can focus a little better. I find hopeful energy where there was sadness. I awake to the realization there is really very little about this day, or the next, that I can control. I can simply observe, learn, and face the coming day with a grace that can only come from the wisdom of experience.
"Enjoy the moment". This will be the mantra I wake up to tomorrow.